Prep Football: Christopher clinches CCS berth with 29-7 win over NMC

Christopher's Alex Pacheco celebrates his touchdown with Rayshon Mills during the Severancec Bowl.

Christopher High School punched its ticket to the CCS playoffs, but not before receiving a scare from North Monterey County.
The Cougars scored 23 second half points to put down the Condors in a 29-7 win.
“I’m glad the kids woke up. Saturday, 2 p.m., it was a little bit different for the guys,” Coach Tom Pierleone said. “We had a real emotional game last week and that really took a lot out of us.”
Christopher (7-3, 4-2) should officially have earned enough points to advance to the CCS Division III playoffs. The Cougars were awarded the No. 4 seed and will host No. 5 St. Ignatius in the first round at 7 p.m. Friday.
NMC jumped out early on the Cougars going 40 yards on eight plays with Jordan Graves going seven yards for a touchdown.
Christopher answered on a Sterling Montgomery 67-yard touchdown to Tyler Fhurong, but the extra point was missed and the Cougars trailed 7-6.
That was all the scoring in the first half as neither side crossed its opponent’s 30.
“The first half was just bad to say the least. No effort from any of us, myself included,” said Jacob Moen. “At halftime, the coaches just told us, ‘you guys are better than this, you play better than this.’ It kind of lit the fire under us to come out and play like Christopher High can play defense.”
At the half, the coaches gathered the players together and rattled their cages, as Pierleone put it.
“I told them that they need to wake up and want to be here. They want this victory, it’s just not going to happen,” Pierleone said. “The other team goes out and they practice everyday, just like us. They’re going to try, they’re not going to lay down, so you’re going to have to take it.”
The boys took it to heart.
The Christopher defense forced four second half turnovers, scoring on one, and the offense responded with a pair of touchdowns.
On the Cougars’ second drive of the half, Rayshon Mills carried the ball 26 yards, setting up Montgomery, who threw a 16-yard strike to Alex Pacheco for a 14-7 lead.
Mills finishes just shy of 100 yards rushing, with 93.
Montgomery, meanwhile, threw for 185 yards and two touchdowns on 10 of 20 passing.
The defense then did its part, recovering a pair of fumbles. The first was by Jacob Zimmerman, the second by Trevor Hadnot.
That turnover set up a Mills 15-yard touchdown for a 22-7 lead after Hadnot converted the 2-point play.
Armando Gutierrez recovered a third fumble, ending NMC’s best drive in the half.
“They just played well. I’m really proud of the kids an their effort,” Pierleone said. “All year long, we’ve had to bounce back a little bit, we’ve struggled a little bit there in the beginning of the season.”
The biggest play of the game came in the final minute when NMC was knocking at the door, with first and goal from the Christopher 10.
Anthony Sammut intercepted a pass in the end zone, taking it out beyond the 25 when NMC swarmed him. But he pitched the ball to Moen who took the ball the rest of the way for a combined 101-yard touchdown.
“I was like, pitch it, pitch it, pitch it. And he was going down and he threw up a prayer and I was there,” Moen said. “It was a little bit of luck. … It just kind of happened I don’t think it could happen any more.”
Moen has scored a touchdown in his previous two seasons as a freshman and sophomore and wanted one for his junior year.